Dune: Book Review by Dinh.
Here is a novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet of Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family- and would bring fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
I am so late to this party! I have had Dune by Frank Herbert on my to be read list for such a long time and finally I picked it up to read over the holidays.
Silly me, why did I wait so long?
I had seen Dune the movie a few times already, in the 80s when it came out (84) and then later, and loved the movie. (Sting was in the movie).
With foresight, I knew I would love this book and I did! I can see why it can be said to be the best written science fiction book out there.
This iconic book is set the gold standard for sci-fi books to follow. I don’t think I will be able to do it justice to express how this book has impacted the sci-fi genre.
So I will just tell you exactly what I loved about this book. Let’s see….
Fantastic Story Line:
Set on harsh desert planet of Arrakis, also known as Dune, this story line is basically about power struggle, and plots within plots to gain power.
Dune is based on a feudal society. Noble families govern planets in an imperium where Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV rule.
At the beginning of the book, we see the transfer of stewardship of Arrakis by imperial order to House Atreides, from the long governing tyrannical Harkonnens.
Here’s where the plot thickens and the rivalry among the noble house start plot and set up traps all so they can get control of the spice production. Spice is the most valuable commodity in the universe. Whoever controls the spice has the power.
I love the different threads of each noble house and what motivates them in the interstellar power struggle. The struggle to attain power is through having control of the melange- a spice that is only available on Arrakis, which enables space travel, among other things.
One of the best thing is about Dune is how the story line intertwines political, religious, environmental, and mysticism concepts in a thoughtful and insightful way making the reader reflect on the human condition and its moral dilemmas.
The themes in Dune are very applicable to what’s happening in 1965 when the book was published, and also now, especially with climate change.
Another interesting aspect of the story line is the backstory of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood. The Bene Gesserit who consists of entirely women, have a secret breeding program that have been in play for centuries.
Their goal is to produce a male Bene Gesserit who would become Kwisatz Haderach, a super-being having the special abilities to see into time and space. This is an interesting take on a eugenics program.
I liked the pace of the book. The story line moved along quite quickly and it did not lose its depth while doing so.
The writing is clear and the layout of the chapters with a box filled with information was a nice touch to add to the story. It gave the reader more insight to the world created by Herbert.
What a wonderful cast of imaginative and amazing characters!
I loved the main characters and the supporting characters.
Whilst there were other outstanding supporting characters, I was mainly drawn to Paul and Lady Jessica because of their psychic abilities.
Paul’s character is very well developed by Herbert. I loved the journey Paul took from boy to Messiah, from playing a role as the possible Kwisatz Haderach to actually being the super-being.
Paul Atreides becomes Duke when his father Duke Leto Atreides is killed plotted by the evil Harkonnens. Paul is only a young 15 year old boy when this happens and we see him transform from an uncertain child into a strong man.
Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica, a Bene Gesserit is an interesting character. She is strong and plays a pivotal role in helping her son. Even from birth she has taught him the Bene Gesserit way so he would strong.
What I liked about her is that although she is trained as a Bene Gesserit and suppose to do what the sisterhood tells her to do, she doesn’t go in blind but makes her own decision. Jessica was supposed to produce a girl so that it would be married off to the Harkonnens in an alliance but she chose to produce a boy for her Duke Leto Attreides instead.
Was there anything didn’t I like?
No, I really enjoyed Dune.
This is a hefty book. I would give a warning to those that are not ready for a heavy read. The book is dense and if you haven’t seen the movie or know anything about it then the terminology can be a bit much.
You may have to go to the appendix at the back of the book to get acquainted with the terminology. It will give you the Ecology of Dune, Religion of Dune, Report on the Bene Gesserit Motives and Purpose, Terminology of the Imperium and Cartographic Notes.
My Final Thoughts:
Dune is a timeless sci-fi classic that should be read by fans of this genre. It’s great plot- an epic saga of a power struggle in an interstellar empire, and fantastic cast of characters will pull you in and stir your imagination whilst making you think about certain issues.
This is a must read for any sci-fi and fantasy fans. I highly recommend you to read this!
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Have you read Dune or seen the movie or TV series based on it? Did you enjoy Dune?